A FREEPORT father and mother were ordered by gunmen to hand over their $15,000 sou-sou money or their children would be killed.
The couple said the sou-sou money which they collected was to be used to purchase laptops for their children aged 14 and 17 to facilitate their online schooling.
Sherilyn Bhola and Davanand Ramsamooj said their children remain traumatised. According to a police report, at about 7 pm on Tuesday, masked gunmen entered the house by breaking down the door and shouted, “Where is the sou-sou money?”
The couple was tied up as gunmen searched the house for the money which was kept in a bag on a table.
“They said to hand over the money or ‘yuh children dead’. It came down to our children’s lives or the sou-sou money. Now we don’t have the money to buy their laptops but at least we are all alive,” Bhola said.
“While not everyone would agree with sou-sou, it has been an age-old way of getting ready cash among a group at the community level. We don’t see a problem with it. You put out money and you get a bigger portion when your turn reaches to collect your ‘hand.’”
Bhola said the family was watching a movie when the front door was kicked in. She said one of the intruders was speaking with someone on a cellphone as he pointed his gun at them. “He was telling whoever he was talking to on the phone that he had reached and was in the house.”
The parents who are both market vendors said they believe that someone knew they had collected their sou-sou “hand” and informed the bandits as to where they lived. In the absence of laptops, the children use their cell phones to log on to their online classes.
Ramsamooj collected $15,000 last week Tuesday. Saying they don’t want what happened to them to befall others, Ramsamooj advised people not to keep large amounts of cash or jewellery or other valuables at home. Freeport police officers are investigating and no arrests have been made. Within the past two weeks there have been reports of violent home invasions in the Freeport area with the latest being an incident on Monday where after robbing a family, intruders tried to abduct one of the victims, a teenaged girl. A neighbour who heard the teen’s screams triggered his alarm which caused the gunmen to release the girl and run off.